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Journal ArticleDOI

Epigenetic codes in cognition and behaviour.

01 Sep 2008-Behavioural Brain Research (Elsevier)-Vol. 192, Iss: 1, pp 70-87

TL;DR: Recent findings on the role and mechanisms of epigenetic codes in the brain are described, and their implication in synaptic plasticity, cognitive functions and psychiatric disorders are discussed.

AbstractThe epigenetic marking of chromatin provides a ubiquitous means for cells to shape and maintain their identity, and to react to environmental stimuli via specific remodeling. Such an epigenetic code of the core components of chromatin, DNA and histone proteins, can thus be stable but is also highly dynamic. In the nervous system, epigenetic codes are critical for basic cellular processes such as synaptic plasticity, and for complex behaviours such as learning and memory. At the same time, epigenetic marks can be stably transmitted through mitosis and meiosis, and thereby underlie non-genomic transgenerational inheritance of behavioural traits. In this review, we describe recent findings on the role and mechanisms of epigenetic codes in the brain, and discuss their implication in synaptic plasticity, cognitive functions and psychiatric disorders. We provide examples of transgenerational inheritance of epigenetic marks that affect simple morphological traits or complex processes such as disease susceptibility, and point to the potential implication of epigenetic codes in medicine and evolution.

Topics: Epigenetic code (72%), Epigenetics (52%), Chromatin (51%)

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Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: These studies indicate that SES is an important predictor of neurocognitive performance, particularly of language and executive function, and that S ES differences are found in neural processing even when performance levels are equal.
Abstract: Childhood socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with cognitive achievement throughout life. How does SES relate to brain development, and what are the mechanisms by which SES might exert its influence? We review studies in which behavioral, electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods have been used to characterize SES disparities in neurocognitive function. These studies indicate that SES is an important predictor of neurocognitive performance, particularly of language and executive function, and that SES differences are found in neural processing even when performance levels are equal. Implications for basic cognitive neuroscience and for understanding and ameliorating the problems related to childhood poverty are discussed.

1,129 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: An epigenetic molecular mechanism potentially underlying lifelong and transgenerational perpetuation of changes in gene expression and behavior incited by early abuse and neglect is highlighted.
Abstract: Background Childhood maltreatment and early trauma leave lasting imprints on neural mechanisms of cognition and emotion With a rat model of infant maltreatment by a caregiver, we investigated whether early-life adversity leaves lasting epigenetic marks at the brain-derived neurotrophic factor ( BDNF ) gene in the central nervous system Methods During the first postnatal week, we exposed infant rats to stressed caretakers that predominately displayed abusive behaviors We then assessed DNA methylation patterns and gene expression throughout the life span as well as DNA methylation patterns in the next generation of infants Results Early maltreatment produced persisting changes in methylation of BDNF DNA that caused altered BDNF gene expression in the adult prefrontal cortex Furthermore, we observed altered BDNF DNA methylation in offspring of females that had previously experienced the maltreatment regimen Conclusions These results highlight an epigenetic molecular mechanism potentially underlying lifelong and transgenerational perpetuation of changes in gene expression and behavior incited by early abuse and neglect

1,113 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The results of this work suggest that patterns of transcription regulation represent the molecular signatures of long-term synaptic changes and memory formation.
Abstract: Transcription is a molecular requisite for long-term synaptic plasticity and long-term memory formation. Thus, in the last several years, one main interest of molecular neuroscience has been the identification of families of transcription factors that are involved in both of these processes. Transcription is a highly regulated process that involves the combined interaction and function of chromatin and many other proteins, some of which are essential for the basal process of transcription, while others control the selective activation or repression of specific genes. These regulated interactions ultimately allow a sophisticated response to multiple environmental conditions, as well as control of spatial and temporal differences in gene expression. Evidence based on correlative changes in expression, genetic mutations, and targeted molecular inhibition of gene expression have shed light on the function of transcription in both synaptic plasticity and memory formation. This review provides a brief overview ...

808 citations


Cites background from "Epigenetic codes in cognition and b..."

  • ...[From Gräff and Mansuy (82), with permission from Elsevier....

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  • ...[From Gräff and Mansuy (82), with permission from Elsevier.]...

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: As histone acetylation and cognitive functions can be pharmacologically restored by histone deacetylase inhibitors, this epigenetic modification might constitute a molecular memory aid on the chromatin and, by extension, a new template for therapeutic interventions against cognitive frailty.
Abstract: Long-lasting memories require specific gene expression programmes that are, in part, orchestrated by epigenetic mechanisms. Of the epigenetic modifications identified in cognitive processes, histone acetylation has spurred considerable interest. Whereas increments in histone acetylation have consistently been shown to favour learning and memory, a lack thereof has been causally implicated in cognitive impairments in neurodevelopmental disorders, neurodegeneration and ageing. As histone acetylation and cognitive functions can be pharmacologically restored by histone deacetylase inhibitors, this epigenetic modification might constitute a molecular memory aid on the chromatin and, by extension, a new template for therapeutic interventions against cognitive frailty.

414 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Non-protein-coding sequences increasingly dominate the genomes of multicellular organisms as their complexity increases, in contrast to protein-coding genes, which remain relatively static. Most of the mammalian genome and indeed that of all eukaryotes is expressed in a cell- and tissue-specific manner, and there is mounting evidence that much of this transcription is involved in the regulation of differentiation and development. Different classes of small and large noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) have been shown to regulate almost every level of gene expression, including the activation and repression of homeotic genes and the targeting of chromatin-remodeling complexes. ncRNAs are involved in developmental processes in both simple and complex eukaryotes, and we illustrate this in the latter by focusing on the animal germline, brain, and eye. While most have yet to be systematically studied, the emerging evidence suggests that there is a vast hidden layer of regulatory ncRNAs that constitutes the majority of the genomic programming of multicellular organisms and plays a major role in controlling the epigenetic trajectories that underlie their ontogeny.

393 citations


Cites background from "Epigenetic codes in cognition and b..."

  • ...Moreover, the brain is also the major site for RNA editing (Bass 2002), which appears to be the principal mechanism by which hardwired genomic information can be overwritten by environmental cues and which, along with epigenetic modifications (Graff and Mansuy 2008; Taniura et al. 2007), may be central to its development and function (Mattick and Mehler 2008)....

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  • ...…2002), which appears to be the principal mechanism by which hardwired genomic information can be overwritten by environmental cues and which, along with epigenetic modifications (Graff and Mansuy 2008; Taniura et al. 2007), may be central to its development and function (Mattick and Mehler 2008)....

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References
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Journal ArticleDOI
07 Jan 1993-Nature
TL;DR: The best understood form of long-term potentiation is induced by the activation of the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor complex, which allows electrical events at the postsynaptic membrane to be transduced into chemical signals which, in turn, are thought to activate both pre- and post Synaptic mechanisms to generate a persistent increase in synaptic strength.
Abstract: Long-term potentiation of synaptic transmission in the hippocampus is the primary experimental model for investigating the synaptic basis of learning and memory in vertebrates. The best understood form of long-term potentiation is induced by the activation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor complex. This subtype of glutamate receptor endows long-term potentiation with Hebbian characteristics, and allows electrical events at the postsynaptic membrane to be transduced into chemical signals which, in turn, are thought to activate both pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms to generate a persistent increase in synaptic strength.

10,688 citations


"Epigenetic codes in cognition and b..." refers background in this paper

  • ...These forms f plasticity reflect respectively, an increase and a decrease in he efficiency of synaptic transmission, and have been extenively studied in the hippocampus, a brain area required for earning and memory (for a review see [30])....

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Journal ArticleDOI
23 Feb 2007-Cell
TL;DR: The surface of nucleosomes is studded with a multiplicity of modifications that can dictate the higher-order chromatin structure in which DNA is packaged and can orchestrate the ordered recruitment of enzyme complexes to manipulate DNA.
Abstract: The surface of nucleosomes is studded with a multiplicity of modifications. At least eight different classes have been characterized to date and many different sites have been identified for each class. Operationally, modifications function either by disrupting chromatin contacts or by affecting the recruitment of nonhistone proteins to chromatin. Their presence on histones can dictate the higher-order chromatin structure in which DNA is packaged and can orchestrate the ordered recruitment of enzyme complexes to manipulate DNA. In this way, histone modifications have the potential to influence many fundamental biological processes, some of which may be epigenetically inherited.

9,366 citations


"Epigenetic codes in cognition and b..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Chronic xposure to an aggressor results in pronounced social avoidnce, prolonged downregulation of two splice variants of Bdnf, dnfIII and BdnfIV in the hippocampus and increased promoter imethylation of H3K27 [102], a mark of transcriptional represion [20]....

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Journal ArticleDOI
10 Aug 2001-Science
TL;DR: It is proposed that this epigenetic marking system represents a fundamental regulatory mechanism that has an impact on most, if not all, chromatin-templated processes, with far-reaching consequences for cell fate decisions and both normal and pathological development.
Abstract: Chromatin, the physiological template of all eukaryotic genetic information, is subject to a diverse array of posttranslational modifications that largely impinge on histone amino termini, thereby regulating access to the underlying DNA. Distinct histone amino-terminal modifications can generate synergistic or antagonistic interaction affinities for chromatin-associated proteins, which in turn dictate dynamic transitions between transcriptionally active or transcriptionally silent chromatin states. The combinatorial nature of histone amino-terminal modifications thus reveals a “histone code” that considerably extends the information potential of the genetic code. We propose that this epigenetic marking system represents a fundamental regulatory mechanism that has an impact on most, if not all, chromatin-templated processes, with far-reaching consequences for cell fate decisions and both normal and pathological development.

8,883 citations


"Epigenetic codes in cognition and b..." refers background in this paper

  • ...These nzymes operate both independently and in synergy to establish “histone code”, a highly dynamic and flexible chromatin markng that, in combination with chromatin-associated proteins, etermines the pattern of gene expression in response to given xternal stimuli [24,25]....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The heritability of methylation states and the secondary nature of the decision to invite or exclude methylation support the idea that DNA methylation is adapted for a specific cellular memory function in development.
Abstract: The character of a cell is defined by its constituent proteins, which are the result of specific patterns of gene expression. Crucial determinants of gene expression patterns are DNA-binding transcription factors that choose genes for transcriptional activation or repression by recognizing the sequence of DNA bases in their promoter regions. Interaction of these factors with their cognate sequences triggers a chain of events, often involving changes in the structure of chromatin, that leads to the assembly of an active transcription complex (e.g., Cosma et al. 1999). But the types of transcription factors present in a cell are not alone sufficient to define its spectrum of gene activity, as the transcriptional potential of a genome can become restricted in a stable manner during development. The constraints imposed by developmental history probably account for the very low efficiency of cloning animals from the nuclei of differentiated cells (Rideout et al. 2001; Wakayama and Yanagimachi 2001). A “transcription factors only” model would predict that the gene expression pattern of a differentiated nucleus would be completely reversible upon exposure to a new spectrum of factors. Although many aspects of expression can be reprogrammed in this way (Gurdon 1999), some marks of differentiation are evidently so stable that immersion in an alien cytoplasm cannot erase the memory. The genomic sequence of a differentiated cell is thought to be identical in most cases to that of the zygote from which it is descended (mammalian B and T cells being an obvious exception). This means that the marks of developmental history are unlikely to be caused by widespread somatic mutation. Processes less irrevocable than mutation fall under the umbrella term “epigenetic” mechanisms. A current definition of epigenetics is: “The study of mitotically and/or meiotically heritable changes in gene function that cannot be explained by changes in DNA sequence” (Russo et al. 1996). There are two epigenetic systems that affect animal development and fulfill the criterion of heritability: DNA methylation and the Polycomb-trithorax group (Pc-G/trx) protein complexes. (Histone modification has some attributes of an epigenetic process, but the issue of heritability has yet to be resolved.) This review concerns DNA methylation, focusing on the generation, inheritance, and biological significance of genomic methylation patterns in the development of mammals. Data will be discussed favoring the notion that DNA methylation may only affect genes that are already silenced by other mechanisms in the embryo. Embryonic transcription, on the other hand, may cause the exclusion of the DNA methylation machinery. The heritability of methylation states and the secondary nature of the decision to invite or exclude methylation support the idea that DNA methylation is adapted for a specific cellular memory function in development. Indeed, the possibility will be discussed that DNA methylation and Pc-G/trx may represent alternative systems of epigenetic memory that have been interchanged over evolutionary time. Animal DNA methylation has been the subject of several recent reviews (Bird and Wolffe 1999; Bestor 2000; Hsieh 2000; Costello and Plass 2001; Jones and Takai 2001). For recent reviews of plant and fungal DNA methylation, see Finnegan et al. (2000), Martienssen and Colot (2001), and Matzke et al. (2001).

6,272 citations


"Epigenetic codes in cognition and b..." refers background in this paper

  • ...ecause of the covalent nature of the binding of methyl groups o the C5 carbon in cytosine, DNA methylation is thought to be he most stable epigenetic mark [9]....

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  • ...DNA methylation is commonly associated with ranscriptional silencing because it can directly inhibit the bindng of transcription factors or regulators, or indirectly recruit ethyl-CpG binding proteins (MBPs), which have repressive hromatin-remodeling functions [9,10]....

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  • ...Most cases of RS are caused by mutaions in the gene coding for methyl-CpG binding protein 2 MeCP2) [62], a member of the MBP family involved in ong-term gene silencing (for a review see [9])....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Advances in the understanding of the mechanism and role of DNA methylation in biological processes are reviewed, showing that epigenetic mechanisms seem to allow an organism to respond to the environment through changes in gene expression.
Abstract: Cells of a multicellular organism are genetically homogeneous but structurally and functionally heterogeneous owing to the differential expression of genes. Many of these differences in gene expression arise during development and are subsequently retained through mitosis. Stable alterations of this kind are said to be 'epigenetic', because they are heritable in the short term but do not involve mutations of the DNA itself. Research over the past few years has focused on two molecular mechanisms that mediate epigenetic phenomena: DNA methylation and histone modifications. Here, we review advances in the understanding of the mechanism and role of DNA methylation in biological processes. Epigenetic effects by means of DNA methylation have an important role in development but can also arise stochastically as animals age. Identification of proteins that mediate these effects has provided insight into this complex process and diseases that occur when it is perturbed. External influences on epigenetic processes are seen in the effects of diet on long-term diseases such as cancer. Thus, epigenetic mechanisms seem to allow an organism to respond to the environment through changes in gene expression. The extent to which environmental effects can provoke epigenetic responses represents an exciting area of future research.

5,377 citations


"Epigenetic codes in cognition and b..." refers background in this paper

  • ...ot be explained by changes in the DNA sequence itself [3] reviewed in [4,5])....

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